Ministry Happens in Parking Lots Too

Ministry Happens in Parking Lots Too

The Tri-City area in east-central New York includes Albany, Schenectady, and Troy. The Atlantic District has churches in all of these cities, including three in the Schenectady area.

Pastor Francis Rigobert was called in July to be pastor at Zion Lutheran Church, the largest church of the three. Zion Lutheran Church sits directly in downtown Schenectady, and Pastor Rigobert collaborates often with the pastors of the other two churches as part of the “Three Church Ministry” among them. This ministry is a care ministry, dedicated to recognizing when people in their communities need the basic necessities of life, and then sharing a common purse to provide things like gift cards, rent money, and food for people in need. This is part of a vision of Zion, as Pastor Rigobert states, “to look beyond the four walls of our church.”

Pastor Rigobert includes another ministry in this vision of looking beyond. The people of Zion Lutheran church have collaborated with an outside organization in a project called Street Soldiers. Every week, Street Soldiers uses the Zion parking lot as well as some of the classrooms in the school to provide hot or cold food to people in need. Often, this means that 120 to 160 people gather to receive food, which is donated by neighboring businesses, along with warm clothes, gloves, and hats, as well as backpacks around the beginning of the school year. Pastor Rigobert’s voice radiates excitement and hope in how these projects bring the Zion community together.

Community is a major theme in the seven months Pastor Francis Rigobert has been at Zion. Some members communicated to Pastor Francis that the people at Zion “wanted common ground because the attendees of the two services did not know each other.” The quick decision was to consolidate the services and to offer two different Bible Study times. Pastor Francis is happy with this and he’s hopeful that it will make it even easier to lead his congregation to look beyond their four walls and reach out to the community of Schenectady, as the congregation becomes one that “teaches people to fish instead of just handing out fish to those in need.”

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